I can talk about three kinds of formation: human formation, intellectual formation, and spiritual formation. You have heard of the age of a child’s life being called “the formative years.” Consider the following: Christians are also known as children of God.
My life “version one” begins in 1982 and ends in 2006. I started an important job in 2006, and that is when I started becoming a man and earning respect.
Human formation includes my biology, and it also includes adoption. Some children are adopted. I was raised by two loving parents that stayed married. Human formation also includes friendship.
Intellectual formation doesn’t begin until we start understanding the reason running in the background of our life.
I am a seeker, and that means that I want to know why things happen. That is where my desire for the truth of God’s existence comes from. I started learning why things happen through studying cause and effect.
A lot of people go to college or university. College students do not necessarily remember the academic information they learn in college, but they do gain essential life experience there. Life experience was more important than college during my intellectual formation. Dramatic intellectual formation does happen in college, or between the ages 18-24.
I spent my 20’s living according to principles I developed as a teenager. Those principles were not always good.
My life “version two” began in 2006 and lasted ten years. In 2016, I became a born again Christian. I wasn’t happy during version two of my life. God’s purpose, as it has been revealed to me, had not entered my life yet.
I started online dating in 2009. That was a sad state of affairs. Online dating is not a sad state of affairs for everybody. I succeeded at online dating, but I wasn’t happy because I was not living up to my potential.
My life “version three” began when I became a born again Christian. This is when I began to take my life seriously. What kind of person will I be? More intellectual formation happened here because I began to reflect on my life experience up until that point and discern what was good and bad. My Christian conscience was formed here. I discovered what part of myself would live forever.
We are using our intellect when we look at the decisions we have made and think about cause and effect. What did God do, and what did I do?
Most of the Christian life is discerning the will of God. The will of God is easy for most people. The will of God is: get married, if I am sexually active, for example. I feared the will of God before I was a born again Christian. Go figure that.
My life “version four” began when I chose my vocation. My vocation is married life. I could say that my spiritual formation began here.
The will of God is summarized by thinking: what does God want? The Holy Spirit is God and proceeds from the Father and the Son, and is Truth with a capital T; so, the question, “what does God want,” would definitely fit in the spiritual formation category. My likeness to God is found in my likeness to Christ and the truth of God’s existence. That’s why Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life.
My reading and interpretation skills tell me that spirit and likeness are connected.
Human beings are part matter, and part spirit. Our soul is spirit. My soul is the part of me that lives forever. My memory is part of me. A likeness of something or someone is a comparison. “This is like that.” That is why I say spirit and likeness are connected.
My relationship with the Spirit of God, in the Christian sense, is my relationship with God the Holy Spirit. I wouldn’t want it to be a likeness to an evil spirit. My spiritual formation includes my prayer life.
I talk to God when I pray. I hear God’s response to prayer when I read the Holy Bible. I will share more about that later.
A final transition happens when something dies, or when something breaks and is unrepairable.
I can replace the tire on my car if it picks up a nail that causes damage that cannot be repaired. Humans are always changing. God never changes. When a person dies their life has made its final transition, even though their material remains will decay over time. The death of a person is the separation of body and soul. Souls never decay, but my memory is part of who I am. My dad died August 13th, 2021, and my son died September 18th, 2021. Luke Ambrose was five months old gestation.
My life “version five” began when my baby was conceived. My life version six began when my baby died.
It’s good to make resolutions when something ends or someone dies. I might not want to drink alcohol if someone dies because of alcoholism. It is typical when people struggle and suffer if something dramatically changes, like in the case of the death of a loved one; but that is a good time to make a good resolution to change your life/ amend something that is bad or broken. Preparing for a new baby is also a dramatic change.
We should know that God does not want babies to die. We should know that biological life ends sometimes.
How we carry ourselves from here on in will tell us how well we are informed, in what direction we are going, and in what spirit, likeness, or manner we are going to get there.
In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis says spiritual life is “zoe” and biological life is “bios.” Apparently bios and zoe refer to the Greek words for “life.” The Greeks also have four words for love: storge, philia, eros, and agape. “Bios” sounds like biology, so it must refer to matter.
When I change from baby to boy, boy to man, man to husband, husband to father, those all begin with a transition, and end with a promotion. That could be considered a death and rebirth. Did you know renaissance (European history, and French word) means rebirth? Beginning and end sounds like life and death.
Spiritual life, in the Christian sense, is supposed to be eternal.
It begins with prayer. It begins with desire. Desire happens in the heart and the mind.
My intellectual formation begins when my brain matures, but my brain gets rewired when I start pursuing the good and avoiding evil. I have to decide what is truly good and truly evil. I got that sense in my conscience through Christianity.
What am I going to do with myself now that my child has died? Well, that is a difficult question to answer. I know that now is a good time to start over. When I start over in Christ, the best parts of myself get carried over to my new self.
I am not afraid of change. Faith does not allow me to be afraid of change. I could say that change is humanity’s greatest disadvantage and adaptation is our greatest strength.
5 And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”